"It's like sharks seeing blood in the water," said William C. Duncan — director of the Marriage Law Foundation and the Sutherland Institute's Center for Family and Society — in a presentation before leaders of United Families International (UFI). He was referring to the reaction by proponents of same-sex marriage, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
Duncan was introduced as the newest member of the UFI board of directors at a meeting held in the home of Sen. Margaret Dayton in Orem. Other new leaders of the pro-family international organization include Robert Spiel, as the new Chairman of the Board, and Laura Bunker, as the new international president.
Sixteen lawsuits have been filed in 14 states (two each in Virginia and Arkansas), in an effort to create a case that the U.S. Supreme Court will consider. Utah is one of the states facing a lawsuit, in an effort to strike down the constitutional provision of Amendment 3 — defining a legal marriage as only between a man and a woman.
Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion that overturned DOMA. He cited the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and essentially said that those living in same-sex marriages were "less respected than others."
Duncan pointed out that the DOMA decision was clearly limited to states which had legalized same-sex marriage, but many gay-rights proponents have expressed a hope that the decision can be used to overturn state laws which define marriage as only between a man and a wife.
"Going forward," according to Duncan, "the Supreme Court has created two possible paths." The first is a "slow motion" effect, with courts striking down state marriage laws one by one — also affecting other states within the same federal district.
"The other possibility is that courageous judges, acting on the large body of evidence favoring the concept of marriage as the union of a husband and wife, will allow the states (specifically, the people of the states) to retain a policy that recognizes that children are entitled to be raised by a married mother and father. This battle is not over yet," said Duncan.
The outgoing UFI president, Carol Soelberg, of Arizona, was thanked for her leadership from 2006 to 2013. In addition to working toward family-friendly international public policies, she helped organize efforts to pass marriage amendments in many states. In her comments to the group, she said a man recently reminded her of a statement by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsam that gay marriage was "inevitable." He questioned, "Why do you fight the inevitable?"
Soelberg responded: "I do not see our success in terms of political victories. I know that an increasing number of states are going to fall prey to activist judges who want to redesign society by legalizing same-gender marriage, but that doesn't mean that we are losing the war. If I am able to convey a message that softens even one heart towards the benefits and blessings of family life, then I have helped make one home happier — and that is the battle I wish to win. When that individual battle is won, there is created one more voice to speak in defense of families."
Susan Roylance is one of the original founders of United Families International, and the International Policy and Social Development Coordinator for the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company